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Bird Checklists of the United States

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Titusville, Florida


Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, located just east of Titusville, Florida, shares a common boundary with the John F. Kennedy Space Center. Its coastal location, tropic-like climate, and wide variety of habitat types contribute to Merritt Island's diverse bird population. To date, 310 bird species have been identified on the refuge.

Of special interest are the breeding populations of southern bald eagles, brown pelicans, wood storks and mottled ducks. Spectacular migration of passerine birds, especially warblers, occurs during spring and fall. Winter peak concentrations of waterfowl often exceed 100,000. Eight species of herons and egrets are commonly observed year-round.

Tips On Birding
A good field guide and binoculars provide the basic tools useful in the observation and identification of birds. While the marshes and shallow impoundments are the most popular birding areas, mangrove-rimmed shorelines, cabbage palm and hardwood hammocks, palmetto and pine uplands, and the beach are all excellent places to find a variety of different bird species. The cool weather months (October-April) are generally the best times of year for birding. The best time of day is early morning and late afternoon.

Using This List
The check list is arranged taxonomically by order (solid line) and family (screened line). Representatives from 18 orders and 62 families have been identified on the refuge.

The word family is a classification term that places birds of similar appearance and habits into one group. Closely related families make up an order. All birds in the same order have some common characteristics. Learning to recognize families and orders can help in identifying new birds you may encounter at Merritt Island Refuge.

The bird list is in accordance with the American Ornithologists' Union "Check-List of North American Birds" as revised in 1982. Season and abundance are coded as follows:


Seasonal Occurrence
S - Spring - March to May
s - Summer - June to August
F - Fall - September to November
W - Winter - December to February

You may see some species outside the seasons indicated on the check list. This phenomenom is quite common for many birds. However, the check list is designed to indicate the general trend of migration and seasonal abundance for each species and therefore, does not account for unsual occurrence.

Abundance Designation
c - common: These birds are present in large numbers, are widespread, and should be seen if you look in the right habitat.

u - uncommon: These are present, but because of their low numbers, behavior, habitat, or distribution, they are not usually seen. However, an average bird watcher should be able to find them by looking in the right places at the right time.

o - occasional: These birds are present in low numbers and are not expected to be seen without a special effort to find them. At least a few are seen each year.

r - rare: These birds are not expected to be seen every year. They occur in low numbers, may also be secretive or hard to identify, and may be unreported for several years.

* - breeds on the refuge


LOONS S s F W ___ Common Loon u - o c ___ Red-throated Loon - - - r
GREBES S s F W ___ Horned Grebe o - c c ___ Pied-billed Grebe* c u c c
SHEARWATER, STORM-PETREL S s F W ___ Greater Shearwater - r r - ___ Audubon's Shearwater - r r r ___ Wilson's Storm-Petrel r r r -
PELICANS, GANNET, CORMORANT S s F W ___ American White Pelican c o o c ___ Brown Pelican* c c c c ___ Northern Gannet o - r u ___ Double-crested Cormorant* c c c c ___ Anhinga* c c c c ___ Magnificent Frigatebird r r r r
HERONS, EGRETS, IBIS, SPOONBILL S s F W ___ Great Blue Heron* c c c c ___ Green-backed Heron* c c c c ___ Little Blue Heron* c c c c ___ Cattle Egret* c c c u ___ Reddish Egret* o o u u ___ Great Egret* c c c c ___ Snowy Egret* c c c c ___ Tri-colored Heron* c c c c ___ Black-crowned Night-Heron* u u u u ___ Yellow-crowned Night-Heron o o o o ___ Least Bittern* u u u u ___ American Bittern - - o o ___ Wood Stork* c c c c ___ Glossy Ibis* c c c c ___ White Ibis* c c c c ___ Roseate Spoonbill u c o r ___ Greater Flamingo o o o o
GEESE, DUCKS S s F W ___ Canada Goose - - - r ___ Brant r - - r ___ Snow Goose - - r o ___ Fulvous Whistling-Duck o - o o ___ Mallard r - o o ___ American Black Duck r - o o ___ Mottled Duck* c c c c ___ Gadwall u - u u ___ Northern Pintail u - c c ___ Green-winged Teal u - c c ___ Blue-winged Teal c o c c ___ American Wigeon c r c c ___ European Wigeon r - r r ___ Northern Shoveler c r c c ___ Wood Duck* o r o o ___ Canvasback u r u u ___ Redhead u r u u ___ Ring-necked Duck o - c c ___ Greater Scaup r - o o ___ Lesser Scaup c o c c ___ Common Goldeneye - - r r ___ Bufflehead r - o o ___ Oldsquaw - - r r ___ White-winged Scoter r - - o ___ Surf Scoter r - - r ___ Black Scoter r r r o ___ Ruddy Duck o - c c ___ Hooded Merganser o - c c ___ Red-breasted Merganser u r c c
VULTURES, HAWKS, FALCONS, OSPREY S s F W ___ Turkey Vulture* c c c c ___ Black Vulture* c c c c ___ American Swallow-tailed Kite o o - - ___ Sharp-shinned Hawk o - u u ___ Cooper's Hawk o o o o ___ Red-tailed Hawk* c c c c ___ Red-shouldered Hawk* u u u u ___ Broad-winged Hawk r - o r ___ Swainson's Hawk - - r r ___ Bald Eagle* u u u u ___ Northern Harrier u - c c ___ Osprey* c c c c ___ Peregrine Falcon r - o o ___ Merlin o - o o ___ American Kestrel u r c c
QUAIL, TURKEY S s F W ___ Northern Bobwhite* c c c c ___ Wild Turkey* o o o o
LIMPKINS, RAILS, GALLINULE, COOT S s F W ___ Limpkin r - - r ___ King Rail* o o o o ___ Clapper Rail* o o o o ___ Virginia Rail r - o o ___ Sora o - u u ___ Black Rail* r r r r ___ Common Moorhen* c c c c ___ American Coot c o c c
PLOVERS, SANDPIPERS, GULLS, TERNS S s F W ___ American Oystercatcher* o o o r ___ Semipalmated Plover o r o c ___ Piping Plover o - o o ___ Wilson Plover* o o o r ___ Killdeer* c c c c ___ Black-bellied Plover u o c c ___ Ruddy Turnstone c o c c ___ American Woodcock - - r r ___ Common Snipe o - u u ___ Long-billed Curlew r - r r ___ Whimbrel o - o o ___ Upland Sandpiper r - r - ___ Spotted Sandpiper u o u u ___ Solitary Sandpiper o - o r ___ Willet* c c c c ___ Greater Yellowlegs c o c c ___ Lesser Yellowlegs c o c c ___ Red Knot o o o o ___ Pectoral Sandpiper o r o r ___ White-rumped Sandpiper o r o r ___ Least Sandpiper c o c c ___ Dunlin c o c c ___ Short-billed Dowitcher u o c c ___ Stilt Sandpiper o r o o ___ Semipalmated Sandpiper c o c - ___ Western Sandpiper c u c c ___ Marbled Godwit o - o o ___ Sanderling c u c c ___ American Avocet o o c c ___ Black-necked Stilt* u u u - ___ Wilson's Phalarope - r r - ___ Northern Phalarope r r - - ___ Pomarine Jaeger r - o o ___ Parasitic Jaeger r - r r ___ Great Black-backed Gull o o o o ___ Herring Gull c o c c ___ Ring-billed Gull c o c c ___ Laughing Gull* c c c c ___ Bonaparte's Gull o - u c ___ Black-legged Kittiwake - - - r ___ Gull-billed Tern* o u o r ___ Forster's Tern c o c c ___ Common Tern r - r r ___ Roseate Tern r - r - ___ Sooty Tern - r r - ___ Bridled Tern r r r - ___ Least Tern* c c c - ___ Royal Tern* c c c c ___ Sandwich Tern o r o o ___ Caspian Tern* u o c c ___ Black Tern o - u - ___ Black Skimmer* c c c c
DOVES S s F W ___ Rock Dove u u u u ___ Mourning Dove* c c c c ___ Common Ground-Dove* c c c c
CUCKOOS, ANIS S s F W ___ Yellow-billed Cuckoo* o o o - ___ Black-billed Cuckoo r - r - ___ Smooth-billed Ani r r r r
OWLS S s F W ___ Common Barn Owl* o o o o ___ Screech-Owl c u c c ___ Great Horned Owl* u u u u ___ Barred Owl* o o o o ___ Short-eared Owl - - o o
GOATSUCKERS S s F W ___ Chuck-will's-widow c c c o ___ Whip-poor-will r - r r ___ Common Nighthawk* c c u r
SWIFTS, HUMMINGBIRD S s F W ___ Chimney Swift* u u u - ___ Ruby-throated Hummingbird o r o r
KINGFISHERS S s F W ___ Belted Kingfisher* c o c c
WOODPECKERS S s F W ___ Northern Flicker* u u u u ___ Pileated Woodpecker* u u u u ___ Red-bellied Woodpecker* c c c c ___ Red-headed Woodpecker r r r r ___ Yellow-bellied Sapsucker u - u u ___ Hairy Woodpecker r - r r ___ Downy Woodpecker* u u u u
FLYCATCHERS, SWALLOWS, WRENS, S s F W THRUSHES, WARBLERS, SPARROWS ___ Eastern Kingbird* u u u - ___ Gray Kingbird o o o - ___ Western Kingbird - - r r ___ Great Crested Flycatcher* u u o r ___ Eastern Phoebe o - c c ___ Acadian Flycatcher r - r - ___ Alder Flycatcher - - r - ___ Least Flycatcher - - r - ___ Tree Swallow c r c c ___ Bank Swallow o r o - ___ Northern Rough-winged Swallow o r o - ___ Barn Swallow c r c r ___ Cliff Swallow o - o - ___ Purple Martin* u u r - ___ Blue Jay* c c c c ___ Scrub Jay* c c c c ___ Fish Crow * c c c c ___ Tufted Titmouse o o o o ___ House Wren o - c c ___ Carolina Wren* c c c c ___ Marsh Wren o - r o ___ Sedge Wren u - o u ___ Northern Mockingbird* c c c c ___ Gray Catbird c - c c ___ Brown Thrasher* o o o o ___ American Robin c - c c ___ Wood Thrush r - r - ___ Hermit Thrush o - o o ___ Swainson's Thrush o - o - ___ Gray-cheeked Thrush o - o - ___ Veery o - o - ___ Blue-gray Gnatcatcher* o o u c ___ Ruby-crowned Kinglet o - o u ___ Water Pipit r - r r ___ Cedar Waxwing o - o c ___ Loggerhead Shrike* u u u u ___ European Starling* c c c c ___ White-eyed Vireo* c c c c ___ Yellow-throated Vireo u - u r ___ Solitary Vireo o - o o ___ Black-whiskered Vireo* o u r - ___ Red-eyed Vireo o o o - ___ Black-and-white Warbler c - c u ___ Prothonotary Warbler o - o - ___ Swainson's Warbler r - r - ___ Worm-eating Warbler r - o - ___ Blue-winged Warbler r - o - ___ Golden-winged Warbler - - r - ___ Tennessee Warbler o - o r ___ Orange-crowned Warbler o - o u ___ Nashville Warbler r - r - ___ Northern Parula o o o r ___ Yellow Warbler o - o r ___ Magnolia Warbler o - o - ___ Cape May Warbler u - u r ___ Black-throated Blue Warbler u - u r ___ Yellow-rumped Warbler u - c c ___ Black-throated Green Warbler r - o - ___ Blackburnian Warbler o - o o ___ Yellow-throated Warbler o - o o ___ Chestnut-sided Warbler r - o - ___ Bay-breasted Warbler r - u r ___ Blackpoll Warbler u - o - ___ Pine Warbler* o o o o ___ Prairie Warbler* u u u u ___ Palm Warbler u - c c ___ Ovenbird u - u o ___ Northern Waterthrush u - u r ___ Louisiana Waterthrush r - r - ___ Kentucky Warbler r - r - ___ Connecticut Warbler r - r - ___ Common Yellowthroat* c c c c ___ Yellow-breasted Chat* r r r r ___ Hooded Warbler o - o - ___ Wilsons's Warbler - - r - ___ American Redstart u - c r ___ House Sparrow* c c c c ___ Bobolink u - o - ___ Eastern Meadowlark* c c c c ___ Red-winged Blackbird* c c c c ___ Orchard Oriole r - r - ___ Northern Oriole o - o - ___ Rusty Blackbird r - r r ___ Boat-tailed Grackle* c c c c ___ Common Grackle* c c c c ___ Brown-headed Cowbird u o u u ___ Scarlet Tanager o - o - ___ Summer Tanager* o o o - ___ Northern Cardinal* c c c c ___ Rose-breasted Grosbeak o - o - ___ Blue Grosbeak* o o r - ___ Indigo Bunting* o o o o ___ Painted Bunting* o o o o ___ Dickcissel r - r r ___ Pine Siskin - - r r ___ American Goldfinch r - u u ___ Rufous-sided Towhee* c c c c ___ Savannah Sparrow c - c c ___ Grasshopper Sparrow o - o o ___ Henslow's Sparrow - - r r ___ Sharp-tailed Sparrow o - o o ___ Seaside Sparrow - - o o ___ Vesper Sparrow r - r o ___ Lark Sparrow - - r r ___ Bachman's Sparrow* r r r r ___ Chipping Sparrow o - o o ___ Field Sparrow r - r o ___ White-throated Sparrow - - r r ___ Fox sparrow - - r r ___ Swamp Sparrow o - c c ___ Song Sparrow r - o o ___ Lincoln's Sparrow - - r r
Since the refuge is situated along the coast, it is on a major migration corridor, is subject to violent storms, and is frequented by many experienced birdwatchers, the list of accidental species is quite large. The following species have been seen less than 5 times on the refuge or have not been seen at all since 1972. Where known, the year the bird was last observed is provided:
Red-necked Grebe                 1977
Eared Grebe                      1976
Western Grebe                    1978
White-tailed Tropicbird          1981
Blue-faced Booby                 1978
Brown Booby                      1990
Great Cormorant                  1979
Whistling Swan                   1973
White-cheeked Pintail            1990
Cinnamon Teal                    1989
Harlequin Duck                   1960
Mississippi Kite                 1992
Sandhill Crane                   1992
Purple Gallinule                 1989
Yellow Rail                      1989
Lesser Golden-Plover             1988
Purple Sandpiper                 1980
Buff-breasted Sandpiper          1988
Hudsonian Godwit                 1958
Black-tailed Godwit              1981
Ruff                             1989
Red Phalarope
Glaucous Gull
Sabine's Gull                    1963
Noddy Tern   
Burrowing Owl                    1976
Red-cockaded Woodpecker          1976
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher        1969
Olive-sided Flycatcher           1974
Horned Lark                      1951
American Crow                    1976
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Golden-crowned Kinglet           1991
Western Meadowlark               1972
Purple Finch
Dark-eyed Junco                  1977
White-crowned Sparrow            1990
Lapland Longspur                 1988
Franklin's Gull                  1987
Common Black-headed Gull         1991
Black-shouldered Kite            1991
L. Black-backed Gull             1992
Warbling Vireo                   1989
Snail Kite                       1990

For additional information contact:
                         Refuge Manager
                         Merritt Island NWR
                         P.O. Box 6504
                         Titusville, Florida 32782       
                         Telephone: 321/861-0667
or visit the Merritt Island NWR website at:   http://merrittisland.fws.gov

This resource is based on the following source:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  No date.  Merritt Island National Wildlife 
     Refuge birds.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
This resource should be cited as:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  No date.  Merritt Island National Wildlife 
     Refuge birds.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Unpaginated.
     Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.govmerritt.htm 
     (Version 22MAY98).

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